Thursday, June 28, 2007

Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

I've been meaning to perfect the recipe for the white chocolate frosting. I've had success with the frosting in my devil's food cupcake and I had this bright idea that maybe I can substitute the chocolate chips with the white chocolate chips and everything will be perfect...

Well, the vanilla cup cakes were. As for the frosting....

Several things went terribly wrong with this frosting experiment:
1. I burned the white chocolate chips when I was melting them in the microwave.Decided to melt the chocolate in a double broiler instead.
2. Melted chocolate was too hot and had melted the butter in the icing making it too runny. Had to refrigerate to solidify.
3. I had the bright idea of piping the icing on the cupcakes using a star tip (note that I've never piped anything in my life). The start tip punched the pastry bag and leaked frosting all over the counter.
4. Frosting didn't cooperate too much. The frosting wasn't as puffy as I had imagined.

Back to the drawing board. Here's how the cup cakes finally came out.

I'm on my way to drop off the goodies to my mom's and mother-in-law's. I've coerced hubby to buy me dinner too :-)

German Pancakes

I've seen this recipe from Martha Stewart's show about a year ago. I've made this several times since then. It's easy, it's fast and it's delicious. It's perfect for a quick brunch. I baked mine in 4 ramekins and I used only one (1) granny smith apple. Here's the recipe from

German Pancakes


Makes 6 pancakes.

* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for tin, and 2 melted unsalted butter
* 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for tin
* 2 (about 1 pound) Granny Smith apples
* 1/4 cup light brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 large eggs
* 3/4 cup milk
* Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter inside each muffin cup of a 6-cup nonstick jumbo muffin tin; coat with granulated sugar.
2. Peel, core, and slice apples into 12 wedges, then cut wedges into 3 pieces. In a medium bowl, toss apples with brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.
3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add apples and saute, turning occasionally, until caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from stove; let cool 5 minutes. Divide caramelized apples among prepared muffin cups. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, and milk; process for 3 minutes.
5. Pour batter over apples. Transfer tin to oven; reduce heat to 400 degrees. Bake until pancakes puff up, about 15 minutes.
6. Remove tin from oven; invert onto a flat work surface. Dust with confectioners’ sugar; serve immediately.

Good eats.

Cooking with Citrus

The local variety of citrus that is very prevalent throughout the year here in Manila is calamansi. A small green-colored citrus barely half an inch in diameter. It may be small, but it packs a very sour juice. Even tangier than a lime.

For our dinner tonight, I had a citrus theme since I have tons of them in my fridge.

For starters, I made a cilantro coleslaw made from some julienned carrots, shredded cabbage, lettuce and cilantro (from the soft tacos I made the previous night). It would have been prettier if it had purple cabbage in it :-) The dressing is just olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper and of course calamansi juice.

When hubby first saw the salad, he asked me what it was. Coleslaw after all usually has a mayonnaise-based dressing and we've never had cilantro coleslaw in any of the restaurants that we've dined in. He was doubtful of the salad to say the least. To him, it looked like rabbit food or something. Although, he didn't have the guts to say it to my face :-)

After taking a bite...hubby loved it and pronounced it to be my signature salad. I was so pleased that he liked it. We ended up finishing the whole thing and it was a big batch too!

For the main course, I opted to simplify Giada de Laurentiis' Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette. I've foregone the part with the chicken stock and lemon zest. Well, you can't exactly zest a calamansi, now can you?

Hubby, sadly mistook it as another version of adobo. Frankly, it was good but needed more sauce and the breast part was a little dry. Next time, I'll make more sauce and bake it for just an hour in the oven. I suspect this recipe will go very well if it was grilled over hot coals instead of roasting it in the oven.

Dessert is just chilled orange wedges that we've purchased from SM for P90 per pack of 8. They were very sweet and juicy. Almost like eating ice candy. Hubby even asked me to slice some more after he ate more than his share of the wedges :-)

A refreshing ending fitting for a citrus-themed dinner for two.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Black Cod

Hubby and I both were under the weather for the past week and weren't in any mood to cook or do anything worth blogging about. It's probably that nasty virus that has been circulating hubby's corporate offices for the past few weeks.

I was able to scrounge up some energy to prepare something quick for dinner last night. I had some black cod in the freezer I decided to cook it oriental style and there's no oil involved whatsoever. Here's how easy it is to make:

Baked Black Cod Steaks
2 Black Cod steaks
Salt and Pepper
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
1 Tablespoon Kikkoman
2 Tablespoons Mirin
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Lime wedges

1. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Rub black cod steaks with salt and pepper. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the lime juice, Kikkoman, Mirin and brown sugar. Let boil and remove from fire. Pour half of the mixture over the steaks. Reserve half for glazing later.
4. Bake cod steaks for 10-12 minutes or until done (flakes easily). The sugar will stick a bit on the side of the fish.
5. With a wide spatula, remove from oven and transfer to a serving platter. Pour remaining glaze over the cod.
6. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

I felt that the cod will go well with a cold mango, cilantro and lettuce salad. Hubby and I don't usually eat dressing with our salads but an asian dressing of lime juice, fishsauce, sugar, salt and shallots will go well with this.

For dessert, I made Pastillas de Leche. A filipino delicacy usually made with carabao's milk. I remember my mom, little brother and me would make this dessert when we were kids, the three of us would huddle over the dining table rolling the sticky dough and wrapping them on yellow cellophane. Making this dessert certainly brought back happy memories of my childhood.

Here's the home made version:
1. Mix condensed milk, powdered milk and melted butter in a bowl until you get the consistency of sticky cookie dough.
2. With sugared hands or with a small ice cream scoop, scoop out the dough and roll in sugar. Shape in little logs or roll in small balls.
3. The pastillas is traditionally wrapped in bond paper and papel de hapon (colored onion skin) with elaborate designs. I took the lazy way and just placed them on mini cupcake baking cups.

Word of caution: this version is very very rich. If you are lactose intolerant, stick with commercially available pastillas.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Baking In My Mind

I couldn't sleep last night. My mind was filled with cupcakes and brownies and cookies that I plan to bake. I tossed and turned all night. Hubby kept asking me what's wrong, poor thing, he wasn't able to sleep as well. Finally around 3:00a.m. exhausted from my day dreaming I finally closed my eyes and drifted off to my sugary dreams.

Sheesh. What's wrong with me?! When I finally woke up, I immediately looked at the inventory in my pantry. I had enough ingredients for cupcakes, brownies and crinkles. We just had cupcakes last weekend so brownies and crinkles were in order.

I made just one batch of each. I was pretty happy with how the brownies turned out. They were very moist and chocolatey. I got the recipe from Alton Brown. I just added some chopped walnuts to the batter.

The crinkles need a bit of work. They're not as moist or as dark as I hoped they would be but they taste great.

I hope that my adventure in the kitchen today will quell my desire to bake again at least for the next day or two. My mom and my in-laws are already neck deep in my baked goodies.

Mom kept complaining that she gained one pound from eating my cupcakes and yet she keeps asking for more. My mother in-law is borderline diabetic yet she can't keep her hands off the cookies.

Oh my, I am the ruin of these women!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day at LP

It’s father’s day. That’s another excuse for our family to go pig out at LP, our second home. Our Sunday family meals recently have been very simple and uncomplicated. What we lack in ultra sophistication (in terms of our meals that is) we make up for quality and quantity.

For this special Sunday, my mom had marinated liempo (country style pork ribs) in soy sauce, calamansi juice, banana catsup, garlic, salt and pepper and then slowly grilled over hot charcoal. Juicy, tender and cooked through. The liempo as expected was a huge hit with everyone. Nothing beats grilled fat in any Filipino diet.

Tita Socky had also asked the maid to grill some whole tilapia for the figure conscious/pretending to eat healthy (but failing miserably)/hypertensive members of the family. The tilapia were juicy and fresh and just perfectly grilled.

As a special treat, we also had bihod. Fish roe sautéed in olive oil, garlic and tomatoes and bird’s eye chili. The delicious bihod was purchased by Tita Socky from the Salcedo Market. I promised myself that I would haul my @$$ off from bed one early Saturday morning and drive there to shop for fresh produce and other rare special goodies.

I brought tofu and had it fried on site and I had made a dipping sauce typically used for Tokwa’t Baboy (Tofu and pork). This one was a special request from hubby. Good thing that everyone liked it too.

And the pièce de résistance, white chocolate with almonds and devil’s food cupcakes that I had painstakingly baked the previous night and the frosting I made early this morning. Needless to say, I was dead tired. So I recruited my nieces Daniele and Nica to help me frost the cupcakes and have some bonding time with them along the way.

Hmm… they seemed to eat more cupcakes than what they had frosted :-)

Tim, didn’t even tried to help. He just wolfed down one cupcake after the next :-)

After all the food that we had ingested, we felt that merienda (Midafternoon snack) was in order. We waited until 3:00pm since it will be that time where hot pan de sal is available in the nearby bakery. Tita Socky had bought these fantastic sausages, called chistorras. The sausages were fried in their own oil until some of it’s own moisture is drawn out and put inside a buttered pan de sal (like palaman). The sausages were sooooo goooooood, perfect balance of salt, sour and wonderful goodness of processed meat :-) Yum! I even tried eating it with rice! Yikes, gluttony alert! Somebody stop me!

Oh, my tummy almost burst with too much food. I couldn’t eat anymore!

Nah, I still had space for dinner with the in-laws :-)

Wanna Be Daddy

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in my immediate family. My brother Jacob, father of two. My cousin-in-law Ralph, father of three. My father-in law Mac, father of two.

Since hubby and I have been waiting for five years for the stork to deliver a special package, or a bun to start baking in the oven (so to speak), our niece Jessica is target practice for today.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. For childless couples like us, better luck next year! :-)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Steak Dinner at Home

Hubby loves steak. To indulge him, I decided to cook some last night. Now, the steaks themselves are quite easy to make. The laborious part of making steaks are the sidings that accompany it. I paired our steaks with mashed potatoes with gravy, grilled shitake mushrooms and Caesar's salad.

Simple Steak
2 Tenderloin steaks
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce

1. Rub steaks with garlic. Let stand for 30 minutes to infuse the garlic flavor in the meat.
2. Heat a stove top grill or charcoal grill. Just before grilling, add olive oil, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce to the steaks and rub very well.
3. Grill to desired doneness.
4. Let meat rest for a few minutes before cutting to seal in the juices. Otherwise, blood will ooze out on your plate. Ew!

Hubby likes his medium well. Cooked on the outside but still a bit red in the middle.

As expected, the steaks were an absolute hit with hubby. He finished his share and half of mine :-)

The homemade Caesar's salad dressing needs a bit of work though. Hubby's favorite dressing was the one that I made with raw egg yolks. I didn't want to use raw egg (I'm quite paranoid about salmonella poisoning) so I used cream instead. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

For dessert, I found some Paho Mangoes from the market. These are mini mangoes that are very sweet and succulent. It's so tiny, it barely fits hubby's palm!

Easy Crab Cakes

I made crab cakes the other night. Fresh crab meat is hard to come by. I buy mine at South Supermarket and I taste it before buying it to make sure it's fresh.

It's a delicious and easy meal to make. I didn't measure anything, since I just threw things together. This is one of those miskipaps (miskipapano, however which way) dishes.

Simple Crab Cakes

Japanese bread crumbs
About 250 grams of cooked, fresh crab meat
1 egg, lightly beaten
Calamansi or lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Combine all the ingredients except for the vegetable oil.
2. Using an ice cream scoop, measure out the crab meat batter. Shape into thin patties. Patties will be wet and not dense.
3. Heat oil. Using a wide and flat spatula, carefully slide down the patties into the hot oil and fry until desired doneness. The patties are already partially cooked, you just need to make sure you're not eating raw egg. About 3-5 minutes on each side.
4. Drain in paper towels.
5. Serve with catsup, chili sauce or tartar sauce.

Make sure that you buy your crab meat from a reputable market. Taste and smell it before purchasing to make sure it's fresh.

This recipe can also be used with dulong (those almost microscopic fish), just use less salt since dulong tends to be very salty by nature.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

I've finally started baking from my new cupcake book. My first choice is apple and cinnamon muffins. It looks easy enough to make, idiot proof even. I've made some adjustments on the recipe (my changes are in italics). Here's the recipe as published in the 500 Cupcakes by Fergal Connolly:

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar (1 cup regular sugar, very briefly processed in a blender)
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup sweet butter (1/4 cup salted butter), melted
2 eggs lightly beaten (room temperature)
3/4 cup buttermilk (1 teaspoon of vinegar plus enough regular milk to make 1 cup, let stand for 5 minutes before use)
2 small apples (granny smith), peeled, cored and finely diced

Preheat oven to 350degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan. (I lined 18 medium sized muffin tins with parchment cupcake cups).

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the oil, butter, eggs and buttermilk with an electric mixer until well combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until nearly combined. Stir in the apples. Do not over mix. Spoon (I used an ice cream scoop for even batter distribution) the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes. (Mine baked for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean). Remove pan from the oven and cool 5 minutes. Then remove the muffins and cool on a rack.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months.

The result:
My version is lighter and less sweet because I used more buttermilk and less sugar. I prefer a less dense muffin.

A dollop of whipped cream or a smear of butter would be nice with this muffin. Great with a cup of coffee too.

Bake Masters

Hubby and I were driving along Sucat Road one time and a blue sign caught my attention. We decided to check it out on our way home.

The store is Bake Masters. As its name suggests, it's a supplier for bakery , confectionery, snack and also meat processing ingredients. I was very excited to check it out and buy some goodies.

The store is not swanky like Cooks Exchange but their supplies are much cheaper and they provide more variety. Walnuts sell for almost half the price. They also have macademia nuts, pistachio nuts that have been shelled, pecans, almonds and cashews that are way cheaper than what you would buy in Antipolo or HK. The nuts are refrigerated which is great because they maintain their freshness that way. I'm gonna buy nuts from them from now on.

I was extremely excited to see that they sell premium flour for P30/kilo. That's about P20 cheaper than what I buy in the supermarket! Rice crispies go for P30 for a big pack. Chocolate chips (local) go for as low as P90/kilo. Marshmallows go for P30 for a huge pack, enough to make 10 dozen s'more cupcakes!

I've also seen some products that I've never used before. Goes to show how amateur I am with baking :-) The sales clerk wasn't very helpful and looked very bored manning the store. Yeah, she's gonna be selling a lot of items with her long face.

The store also offers cake boxes and assorted packaging materials for your baked goodies. Clingwrap sell for P50 for a 30meter box. Good buy.

Bake Masters offer short courses in baking such as yeast breads, quick breads, pies, tarts, pastries cakes, cake decoration, desserts, sugar work and meat processing. The classes vary from month to month. I was told by the sales person that classes only commence when they have signed up at least 8 students per class.

This month of June, they offer classic European baking, quick and easy cooking and basic cake decorating and assembly. The latter costs P2,000. Barring the unhelpful sales clerk, I've signed up for it but I guess no one else has :-( With the sales clerk's attitude, I'm not surprised why no one even bothered to sign up. Duh.

For inquiries on their upcoming short courses, you may call 828-51-23 or 829-69-49. Bake Masters is located at Unit ABC, No 8415 Dr. A. Santos Ave. (aka Sucat Road), Paranaque City.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Hubby was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week on business. I had asked him to bring home a souvenir that's distinctly Malaysian. I specifically asked for some wood carvings that we could add to our collection. Since I got married, I try to buy some items from our travels that would look lovely displayed in our home or at least buy something something that's practical and useful.

Hubby was on the hunt. And this is what he came up with:

A miniature gong and beer mug. It's neither made of wood nor is it practical and useful. Hmmm. Note to self: don't ask hubby to purchase home accessories.

But then again, he redeemed himself by bringing home this cupcake book:

I've been itching to bake since I got it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Cyma Estiatorio.......OPA!

Hubby and I love Greek food. Our favorite by far is a quaint little hole in the wall restaurant in Boracay called Cyma. We had dined there last year and we fell in love with the food.

I found out that they have a new branch that opened in Greenbelt. We were so excited to dine there last weekend because it brings back memories of our Boracay trip.

For appetizers or "Mezedes", which in Greek means "something soft and delicate", we ordered the Pikilia Mezedes, a sampling of four delicious dips, served with sixteen wedges of warm whole wheat pita bread:

Melitsanosolata, freshly roasted eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, wit lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
Tsatsiki, a classic cucumber, garlic and Greek yogurt dip.
Htipiti, creamed feta with a hint of spicy peppers and extra virgin olive oil. I was surprised that hubby liked this one, normally, he doesn't like feta nor anything spicy.
Hummous, chickpea, tahini and garlic. Among the dips, this one is the biggest winner in terms of taste.

Since the Pikilia was quite filling, hubby and I shared a single main course. We agreed on Swordfish Souvlaki (skewer) and for extra P75 you get a side of Family Style Greek Salad of mixed greens, red cabbage, tomatoes, capers, cucumbers, feta cheese, pine nuts and black olives in traditional Greek vinaigrette. Yummy and healthy.

The Swordfish Souvlaki is by far one of the the best fish dish that I've ever tasted. The fish was very fresh and succulent and not malansa at all and there's no fishy after taste (which is great when you're having a date). The skewered vegetables are perfect foil for the fish. I has asked the waiter what was the marinade used for the fish. It was salt, pepper olive oil and some tomato sauce. The souvlaki comes with a yogurt dipping sauce. Frankly, the fish was great even without the dipping sauce.

For dessert, hubby ordered the home made chocomint ice cream served with honey and walnuts. I personally don't like the combination of chocolate and mint but hubby loves it. So, this one's a winner too.

If you order the crepes, they will flambe it in front of you and all the waiters will shout OPA! (A Greek term for "love of life")

Cyma, a must try.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sarap Mag Shopping

When I shop, I try to purchase organic salad greens as much as possible. They cost the same as the pesticide ridden variety anyway. One drawback of that is that they don't come pre-washed like most of their their salad-in-a-bag counterparts. I wanted to buy a small, cheap salad spinner so that I don't have to dry the salad greens in paper towels. The ones that I see from Gourdo's, Ace hardware, Cooks Exchange and Rustan's are far too expensive, mostly ranging from P1,200 to P2,000+. Haller, I'm not looking for a designer type salad spinner na may entertainment value no! I just need the utilitarian variety.

Last week, I went on a shopping trip to Makati, after all, it is the center of all shopping centers here in Manila. I'm bound to find a cheaper alternative there. Wearing my most comfy shoes, I brace myself for a day of bargain hunting. I hitched a ride with hubby on his way to work so that I don't have to drive nor park. I started my hunt at SM Makati. Within five minutes, I found exactly what I was looking for. A small, plastic, salad spinner worth P229. Sweet. But what I am to do the rest of the day?

I started browsing around and came upon a baker's corner inside SM. I almost squealed out of sheer excitement. In that nifty little corner sat rows and rows of fondant icing itching to be rolled out and shaped, instant multi-colored icing with their own piping tips, cake stands, sprinkles in every size, shape and color imaginable, revolving cake stands, tilting cake stands, cake carriers, cookie molds, chocolate molds, cake decorating kits, piping tips of every size and shape, themed decorative cake candles, high end vanilla extract, cake pans, cake racks, cupcake trees, cupcake stands and a cornucopia or gadgets for propping up a multi-layer cake to rolling out dough to punching out fondant to figurines for your cake. OMG, my head was spinning. I wanted to buy every single item there. Whew!

Gadget wise, It's better than Cook's Exchange. And the service was excellent. All the sales people were very helpful and courteous.

I figured since I saved so much money on the salad spinner, I could indulge in one little item. I ended up buying three. I decided to purchase a Wilton revolving cake stand for P650 and I saw some generic muffin tins that would fit my oven (P100 each, what a steal). (Picture courtesy of

If you're in the area and if you love to bake, check out SM Makati, houseware section. You'll probably squeal with delight too.

A Haven for Cooks and Bakers

I love Cooks Exchange. It's one of my favorite places to commit sin.......lust. Their racks are filled with items that I covet. From their assortment of nuts, sprinkles, chocolates, cocoas to their covetable kitchen gadgets and utensils. Ilayo nyo po ako sa tukso!

I rarely go there though because it's quite far from where we live. Every time that I am in Makati, I always make it a point to drop by, an outing of sorts and purchase something. A favorite purchase is walnuts. They're cheaper than your neighborhood grocery store. They sell it for P76 for a small pack, enough for one batch of pastries or two batches of salad. So I make sure I stock up whenever I'm there. Walnuts are also great as a healthy snack. Be sure to stock them in the fridge or freezer to maintain their freshness. Just defrost or toast before use.

My happiest find was a small off-set spatula that I've searched high and low for (well, only in the south area). Even my husband was on the hunt with me. I've seen Martha Stewart use it countless times on her TV show. Since I bake also, I felt that it was a necessary tool in my kitchen. I squealed in delight when my husband found it.

Hubby said maybe we should buy a lot. Ok, there's no sense in over stocking on the thing. It's not like I'm going to eat it.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Kwentong May Bahay - The Woes of Ironing

I had to tell hubby prior to getting married that one of the things that I will never do when we get married is iron his clothes. As part of our verbal agreement, in no circumstances will I be forced to iron hubby's clothes. Hubby of course agreed. For the first year of our marriage, when we were both working, hubby would iron his own clothes (since we were practically destitute at that time and couldn't afford to have them ironed by a laundromat). Poor thing. Our clothes would always be laundered by the kilo and kanya-kanyang plantsa. Until such time that we took advantage of my mom's generosity to have our laundry done at her house as long as we pay the water and the laundry woman. This went on for a year or so. Pretty soon, the laundry woman would make extra by cleaning our house too. Long story short, we fired the laundry woman for stealing money.

The inevitable had presented itself. I was a stay at home wife (I prefer the term, executive wife) with no laundry woman. What to do, what to do. Hubby and I decided that we could live with clothes washed by a reliable washing machine instead and that the ironing could be done by the laundromat. Three problems with that. One, it's expensive. Two, it will entail driving (and parking) on my part. Lastly and most importantly, I would have to lug our mountain of laundry to and from the car. Not my idea of fun.

We purchased a new washing machine last year and I told hubby that I would rather do the ironing at home than lugging it all over the place. Most women have done ironing, why can't I? Ironing used to take me the whole afternoon and would often be filled with cursing and wrestling with hubby's humongous trousers and jeans. The khakis were absolute murder, I forbade hubby to use them. Until now, hubby always asks, "Can I wear khaki today?" Wawa naman.

Until lazy me, decided that I will immediately iron our clothes as soon as it comes out of the spin cycle. Lo and behold, my ironing time was cut from 4 hours to 1, for a full load of laundry. Woo hoo! No more waiting for the clothes to dry, no more spritzing, no more steaming. The wrinkles in our clothes straighten out immediately as soon as the hot iron touched them. Drying time is practically nil. If the clothes are still slightly damp after ironing, I simply place them on a hanger and let nature take its course. Ironing is not as unpleasant as it was before.

Ok....ok.... so I do it in an air-conditioned room. Who says you have to look like a wilted flower when you do the ironing anyway?

Friday, June 1, 2007

My First Cupcake Attempt-A Comedy of Errors

I've always been intimidated by cupcakes. They look so delicate and pretty and I assumed that they were quite complicated to bake. I chanced upon this recipe and it looks simple enough to do. I gathered all the ingredients from my pantry, jotted down the recipe and proceeded with baking.

The problem with jotting down recipes, is either you forget one essential ingredient or one essential procedure. The first batch that made was a complete disaster. I had forgotten to add the milk to the batter. I only realized that I had forgotten the milk when the cupcakes were already baking.

If that wasn't bad enough, my cupcake tins of 12 didn't fit my tiny oven. I had to remove the rack and place stainless steel bowls to prop up the muffin tins. Ayayay!

I ended up with vanilla cookies baked in muffin tins. They tasted great but they were hard as a rock. Best used for pamato for piko or to throw at burglars or something else other than eating them.

Undaunted and with sheer determination, I made another batch, this time carefully reading the instructions and carefully adding and measuring all the ingredients. This batch came out perfectly. It baked exactly 18 minutes and the batter puffed up to soft yet rich vanilla cupcakes. I was very pleased with how they turned out. This recipe yielded exactly 24 medium-sized vanilla cupcakes. I used a spring loaded ice cream scoop to measure out the batter in the individual muffin cups for uniformity.

Now, if I can just perfect the cream cheese frosting.

A Constant Quest for Restful Sleep

Hubby had in many occasions complained about our pillows. I've already bought some new ones but he still didn't like them. This time, he saw a "new age" type of pillow that follows the contour of your head with ultra fine Powder Beads TM encased in a titanium weave covering. It's called the double chamber MOGU Pillow.

The little beads were created in 2000 by Japanese businessman Yoshinobu Ishida, president of Ebisukasei Inc., a humanitarian and environmentally conscious manufacturing company in Osaka, Japan. The beads are created from recycled beads left over from making bike helmets.

The MOGU Pillow claims that the patented ultra fine Powder Beads offer a first-ever experience in super soft and supportive sleep technology.

Unlike traditional pillow fillings or foam, the MOGU pillow offers a fluid like support that alleviates pressure and stress to the neck and shoulders. The ideal sleeping posture is your standing posture, inverted horizontally. This pillow makes it possible to maintain the natural S-line of the neck from the standing position. The pillow reacts to your head movements during sleep, relieving the pressure from your neck and shoulders.

The actual titanium in the fabric's weave, distribute heat, resulting in a cool, restful night sleep. The pillows also come with their own terry cloth pillow case for added comfort and coolness.

My husband was already sold to the idea. I wasn't but I give in anyway. I would like to test its veracity for myself.

I was very pleased with the results. First, the beads really do adjust to natural curvature of your neck, shoulders and head. Second, the beads are very soft and pleasant and very nice to squish and punch. Thirdly, and most importantly, the neck and back pain that I normally get from sleeping have been somewhat alleviated (not completely yet). Hubby is very very pleased with it. His snores prove it.

The double chamber MOGU Pillow is available, buy one take one, for P3,200 at Sleepcare in Glorietta, near Home Zone.

Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.

A Vietnamese Experience

It was my cousin Annie's birthday (whom we fondly call Buday). As a celebration and reunion of sorts, our former neighbor in LP, Gigie has joined us. It's a threesome of old friends reminiscing about our childhood.

Gigie, fortunately found us on Friendster and was able to communicate with us. Hence, the long awaited reunion. Don't you just love Friendster?

My cousin Buday had chosen the place. Pho Bac in Glorietta. I've never dined there before since I'm not very fond of Vietnamese cuisine. But I was game and would love to eat something different. We settled for the Cambodian and the Saigon noodles plus some spring rolls. I wasn't too impressed with the food. Both the Cambodian and the Saigon tasted the same except the Cambodian had salami and squid balls in their broth, that's it. We thought that all the noodle dishes were all cooked in the same broth and didn't have any distinct differences in them. If you happen to dine there, just get the cheapest noodle, they all taste the same anyway.

(Pictured from top: Cambodian, Spring Rolls, Saigon)

Despite the disappointment in the food. The three of us had a grand time talking about our lives and what has happened between the 15 or so years that we haven't seen Gigie. How time flies, I remember when we were just kids having merienda at lola's dining table, running around the village, climbing roofs and hating the village's resident bad boy who punctured our Barbie dolls' eyes. Now all of us are married, both of them have kids and we're all grown-ups! We now have responsibilities and bills to pay. None of us really changed much, we were all the same people but with more responsibilities. Beauty pa rin up to now. Well, at least that's what we would like to think :-)

(Gigie, Annie and Moi)

My, my, my it's nice to go back to the time where you had no care in the world, no bills to pay, no meals to plan. Oh, to be a kid again.

Girls, what do you say? Let's revisit our youth again soon?

A Humble Ulam

Tinola is a viand staple in any Pinoy household. It's delicious taste is a palate pleaser for everyone. It's salty yet spicy taste from the ginger and the finger pepper is perfect foil for the chicken that slowly cooks in its broth.

Growing up both my mom and my grandmother refused to put anything "artificial" in their dishes. I had learned growing up that doing shortcuts to dishes bastardizes it's true flavors. So for many years, I would never put any MSG or boullion cubes in my dishes. Well, MSG will forever be banned in my pantry.

When I was still working at an advertising agency (many years ago), we conducted a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) for an upcoming soup enhancer product. And our group consisted of housewives and the jolly jeep cooks and vendors. As most Makati urbanites know, but would not admit to, the jolly jeep dishes are quite good and probably the best traditional Pinoy food around. The flavors are simple yet rich and homey. As the discussion progressed, they admitted to using boullion cubes in their tinolas and nilagas.

Going against what mom and lola taught me, I had put that forbidden boullion cube in my tinola. When my tinola was cooked, it was heavenly richer and more flavorful and the aroma was more enticing than my previous tinolas. Hubby loves it and would often eat more than what he intended to every time I serve it on our dinner table.

The boullion cube, a wonder ingredient that no housewife would admit to using. Well, maybe only this one.

Tom Who?

Tomyao. It sounds like a basketballer's name or a cat's meow. But it's actually an edible weed of some sort. I found this curious weed from the salad department of my favorite grocery store. I felt curious of what it was and what it would taste like. The name alone caught my attention. I thought it would go well with tomatoes and kesong puti but I changed my mind at the last minute because hubby hates white cheeses like kesong puti and feta.

I instead added this curious weed into a salad mix of assorted lettuce, tomatoes and shaved carrots with a wasabi dressing (on the side). It tastes surprisingly like alfalfa but a little different in texture. It's a bit harder and it has a sweet tangy taste when you bite into it.

As we eat it, I know it would go well with Asian noodles in peanut sauce. Yum!